Rasiing Onion Sets

Helena, MT

Although a rare occurrence I read an article in Dave’s weekly newsletter on vegetable gardening which spoke of raising onions sets from seed. The long day onions do very well here, however I have had difficulty in raising suitable sets from seed planted indoors. In this article the author spoke of planting onion seed in their garden in mid-summer and removing the sets in about 60 days for storage until next spring’s planting.

Several thoughts come to mind about harvesting and storing onion sets over winter: (1) How to harvest; and (2) how to store these sets. Any thoughts on the subject???

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I would think that the "crisper" drawer in the 'fridge would be the best place to store them, providing your crisper stays fairly dry. I don't know about harvesting -whether or not you would want to bend/break the tops over first & let them cure.

Helena, MT

I posted this in the vegetable section as well and no one actually responded to this aspect of storage and I have been wondering the same thing. I stored saved any left over seed in the crisper in previous years but have since learned that this is not the best area in the refrigerator to store seed due to moisture levels. I do think your correct about bending over the heads and allowing them to dry before removing the bulbs. Further drying them in plastic mesh bags hung in the shed, then removing them to the attached garaged for the winter may be the best means of over winter storage. This is where I keep my larger onions which generally last until spring if I check them frequently and remove any rotten ones. I have eight white onions left from last season which are probably from sets rather than the Walla Walla which I start indoors from seed. My garage remains between 40 and 50F during the winter with low humidity levels, so this should work.

What I think I will do is use an 8' x 4' raised bed in late June or early July which was used for lettuce during the spring and simply scatter the seed randomly rather than make a production of it. If it works, fine,.if not I've learned a lesson in how not to.

One suggestion made in the other forum about growing sets from seeds is to obtain a larger set it is necessary to add nutrients periodically. This may work on establishing a decent crop of bulbs before dormancy sets in. Winter comes quickly here and may last longer than most places. We had half an inch of snow yesterday morning, so growing season is tricky for most crops, especially long day onions, but so far we have been lucky.

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